ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Home away from home

Parity, the National Football League's long-sought ideal, has struck Duluth's high school football programs in 2000. None of the city's schools claim to have any true superstars and furthermore, none claim to be the city favorite. However, the 20...

Parity, the National Football League's long-sought ideal, has struck Duluth's high school football programs in 2000.
None of the city's schools claim to have any true superstars and furthermore, none claim to be the city favorite.
However, the 2000 prep football season should not be a dull one, with nearly every school in the city expecting to be vastly improved this fall.
Parity may mean that there are no favorites, but it also means that anything can happen. Especially as Duluth teams take to the artificial turf at UMD's Griggs Field for the first time, full time, as the city awaits the 2001 opening of the new Public Schools Stadium.
Denfeld Hunters
The Hunters' main weapon may be the closest thing to a superstar you'll find in the city limits this fall, as 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Ditman leads the way for Denfeld.
Ditman will be following an offensive line anchored by center Joel Hatlund and tackle Joe Macor, with pass-catching threat Sean Seaman at tight end.
"I think we're kind of a mix between experience and young guys, but we have a good nucleus back," said Denfeld head coach David Mooers. "We expect our kids to have a good season. We're talented enough to win more games than we'll lose, but it's just going to be up to them how hard they want to work."
After a shaky start practicing in Morgan Park, the Hunters have shown rapid improvement this week, which has increased Mooers optimism.
On defense, Denfeld will be counting heavily on returning defensive backs Mike Thro and Travis Thoreson, along with linebacker Eric Gerchman.
"As it gets closer, the kids start playing harder," said Mooers, who planned to make some final personnel decisions based on more recent player production within the coming week.
Offense: Primarily rushing, but the Hunters do have the capability of a sufficient passing game.
Defense: Base 4-3.
East Greyhounds
After wandering lost through the prep football forest for some time, it looks as if the Greyhounds finally have grounds for optimism.
A strong group of players, including land-moving center Jack Lyons and speedy running back Justin Davis, have finally made it to the varsity level following their developmental years in the East feeder programs.
After averaging 6.6 yards per carry last season in limited duty, Davis is hoping for a breakout year in 2000 with the help of Lyons' blocking and the built-for-speed Griggs Field turf.
"Our biggest advantage is that we're a fast team," said Davis. "And playing on the turf will just be that much more of an advantage."
The downside of speed, at least in the case of the Greyhounds, is that they lack size, at least until their promising group of ninth graders develop.
"We've got 35 receivers, 20 backs and six fat kids," said Lyons, with a chuckle. "But we work harder than teams in the past."
Duluth East will hope to do its best impression of the famed "no-name defense" this fall, as a cast of good athletes will try to build around starting defensive end Patrick Hughley to form a cohesive and formidable defensive unit.
{IMG2}
Offense: Expect a heavy reliance on the ground game, with Lyons leading the way for Davis.
Defense: 5-2 with monster back over the middle.
Marshall Hilltoppers
Possibly the only team in town that could be considered a favorite in their section, the Hilltoppers have returned a sizable collection of talent including wide receiver T.J. Freeman and quarterback Pete Spreitzer.
Freeman, a senior with breakaway speed, will also spend time at free safety for Marshall, giving them a strong downfield presence on both sides of the football.
"We're expecting a lot this year," said junior outside linebacker and fullback David Moline. "We really have no secrets. We're more experienced, bigger and stronger than before."
On defense, Moline will be joined by big Josh Peterson at inside linebacker and Adam Balich on the end.
Balich, who may be the one Hilltopper with more speed than Freeman, will also split time as an offensive weapon, playing tight end.
Look for Marshall to give conference powers East Central and Braham a strong test this fall.
Offense: Balanced, with experience and talent at each of the skill positions.
Defense: 4-4.
Central Trojans
Incoming head coach Scott Forbort doesn't really know what to expect from his Trojans this fall.
Following the graduation of last season's WDSM Player of the Year running back Kamden Vedder, Central has holes to fill and questions to answer.
One of those questions is Rolando Peco.
The tremendous track star from Central was moving to East High School, but has recently declared that he has changed his mind and will now stay at Central.
If he comes back to Forbort's team soon, he may have enough time to pick up the offense and become the weapon out of the backfield that everyone expects he can be.
If not, it'll be up to a strong offensive line, led by three-year starting center Adam Oling, to plow holes big enough for someone else to run through.
One thing seems certain with the Trojans in 2000: They will not be an aerial circus on offense. Many positions are still up for grabs as Central looks to rediscover its winning touch from 1999.
"Our strength this year is going to be our offensive line," said Forbort. "We're going to basically count on them to put together some long drives.
Offense: Rushing early and often.
Defense: 4-3.
Proctor Rails
Ordinarily, when a team loses 18 starters its outlook is anything but promising.
However, that may not be the case for the Rails, who are rebuilding, but not without some solid building blocks.
"The thing was last year that we had a lot of our second team guys in games early," said Rails head coach Dave Hylla. "A lot of these kids got a good chance to play, so it's not like we're starting new again."
One key returner will be rock-solid senior Jimmy Johnson. He'll be playing on both sides of the ball for Proctor, at offensive guard and defensive tackle.
Another senior, Scott Wojtysiak, will also carry a heavy load for the Rails as the team's starting quarterback and free safety.
Steadily improving Matt Ogston will get a chance to be Proctor's starting running back, a job that should provide Ogston with plenty of opportunities to touch the football. He'll likely receive some help from Mick Moen in the backfield.
One fairly significant change that Hylla said the Rails will make is in their running game.
"We're definitely quicker in the backfield (this year), so we'll probably run outside, around the corner more," he said.
Offense: Run-oriented.
Defense: 5-2, aggressive.
Hermantown Hawks
"Guarded optimism" may best describe the feelings around the Hawks' camp this summer.
"Every year in our conference and this area is a good battle between every team on every given night," said head coach Daryl Illikainen. "And we see ourselves right in the thick of things. By the end of the year, we should be a real nice club."
A solid group of players will be returning to the field for Hermantown this fall including quarterbacks Steve Henry and B.J. Radovich, who are vying for the starting quarterback job.
Dane Johnson is expected to emerge along with Thad Epperly as the team's main ground threats, while Dan Wagner at wide receiver and Lucas Harju at tight end appear to be the leading passing targets.
Offense: Pro-set; option.
Defense: 5-2.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.